SAP Track Highlights Accounting Optimization, Automation & Transformation

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4-minute read

A roundtable featuring three SAP CFOs opened a curated agenda of SAP-focused BeyondTheBlack sessions, addressing issues that ranged from talent retention and development to change management and leading practices.

The three-day virtual event began with insights from Joel Bernstein, CFO of Customer Success and Head of Global Finance, Gina McNamara, CFO of SAPAPJ, and Roger Daoud, CFO of SAP Canada. Hosted by the head of SAP’s Finance Center of Excellence Stephanie Miller, the roundtable examined digital initiatives, leadership priorities, and inspiring customer stories.

Detailing BlackLine's Customer Successes

The SAP track also featured detailed analysis by Heineken, Chevron Phillips Chemical, and Walgreen’s Boots Alliance. They discussed how BlackLine and SAP solutions have helped provide visibility, agility, and automation to help these organizations navigate changing business models and pandemic recovery.

Optimizing Key Accounting Processes at Heineken

At Heineken, Global Process Owner of Record-to-Report Filip Forceville described how, starting in 2018, BlackLine and SAP began helping the company upgrade to a new operating model that consists of Continuous Accounting, process mining, data analytics, and continuous process improvements.

Before moving to SAP’s S/4HANA Central Finance, Heineken had a number of different—and often conflicting—SAP instances. “Everybody was using different functionalities, different configurations,” he says. “Accounting was like comparing apples with pears. It didn’t make sense, from a people perspective or a process perspective.”

Forceville explained that Heineken now has a unified data model that can serve as a single source of the truth. He also talked about how the company uses BlackLine with S/4HANA’s Central Finance for key accounting processes like balance sheet reconciliations.

“Now we have one chart of accounts,” he says. “It shows the same risk segmentation for specific balance sheet accounts and the same frequencies. We can monitor closing in real time, and we’re getting rid of Excel spreadsheets. We have clear roles and responsibilities, and conflicts are not possible.”

Account Reconciliation Automation at Chevron Phillips Chemical

Another customer, Chevron Phillips Chemical, talked about how the company benefits from BlackLine features, such as automated journals and audit trails, after transitioning from spreadsheet-based accounting to the BlackLine cloud platform.

“We have all our financial details in SAP,” says Morgan Shaper, BlackLine project manager for Chevron Phillips. “Our journal support and account reconciliations were previously stored on a company drive, but were separated by departments, so we had no common view.

“Our account reconciliations were prepared in Excel. We had no audit mechanism to make sure they were all complete, had the proper approvals, or were tied to our general ledger.”

With BlackLine, Chevron Phillips has been able to automate 60% of account reconciliations, and reconciliations can now be reviewed quarterly rather than annually.

“This was a huge time saver for us,” says Shaper.

The company took their accounting transformation to the next level with BlackLine’s Transaction Matching and Automated Journal Entry solutions.

“For automated journals, BlackLine lets us require approval for material journal entries, and tracks the audit trail of those approvals,” Shaper says. “BlackLine also makes the audit trail available to auditors whenever needed, something that’s saved us the lengthy process each quarter of providing auditor support.”

Digital Finance Transformation at Walgreens Boots Alliance

BlackLine’s role as transformation enabler was a key aspect of the BeyondTheBlack session featuring Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA). They are the parent company to the well-known Walgreens retail pharmacy chain in the US, and the similar Boots chain across Europe.

In the session, Vice President & Platform Information Officer Mark Slater noted that BlackLine is a key enabler in the company’s transformation to digital finance.

WBA uses a multiple ERP landscape, so Slater says, “It does help to be in a tool that can standardize and streamline processes and help us speak a common financial language. It takes the manual labor out, some of the churn out, and lets people focus on what they’re most excited to do.”

Maximizing Accounting Solutions with BlackLine & SAP

In other sessions throughout the day, SAP and BlackLine experts shared insights about BlackLine’s strategic Solution Extension relationship with SAP, how BlackLine and SAP ERP solutions work together, and how BlackLine aligns with SAP’s RISE initiative to accelerate digital transformation.

BlackLine partners Deloitte, EY, Clearsulting, UHY, and Vaco explored topics ranging from automated journals and intercompany accounting to maximizing investments in finance transformation. And in a customer panel, Chobani, Kering, and Moody’s told how accounting automation such as SAP’s Solution Extensions by BlackLine can provide momentum, F&A capacity, and valuable synergies during an SAP transformation.

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